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Planning for Natural Hazards

People with a disability are twice more likely to die or be injured during natural disasters than the general population.  Individuals with disability are more likely to be socially isolated and have nobody to turn to in times of emergencies. In addition, supports for the unique needs and capacity of people with disabilities in disasters and emergency response are often fragmented and unclear.

The Centre for Disability, Research and Policy, at the University of Sydney are engaged in 2 key projects – Disability Inclusive Disaster Preparedness in NSW:  Enabling Community Resilience through Collaboration and PREPARE, NSW.

These projects focus on person-centred emergency preparedness by targeting community health and disability support providers to enable preparedness for people with disability and chronic health conditions.

DSS staff supported 2 participants to review the tools and obtain feedback about its use.  Staff members, Kishna, Nicolle and Jackie then provided feedback to Hayley and Michelle about further development of the tool in terms of person centred approaches.  The information gathered throughout the forums, which DSS attended, was taken to a United Nations Presentation in New York, where the University was invited to present.

Hayley is now using stakeholder feedback to apply for further funding to develop the tools accessibility and person centred approach.  Key feedback has resulted in recommendations by the University to shift the research focus of emergency preparedness frameworks from vulnerability to a capability approach which sees those ‘at risk’ included in emergency management activities.

The risk of natural hazards is currently not mentioned in NDIS planning discussions.  Consequently people are not encouraged or funded to plan for such events.  Using a strengths-based self-assessment tool, participants and their service providers can plan for emergency preparedness so a response and recovery can be more effective and efficient.